We are on schedule to arrive in West Palm on Friday around noon and though we’ve had remarkably calm seas, I sometimes find myself getting sea sick…. not the take-some-Dramamine-motion-related-nausea-seasick but another kind that eventually affects every sailor after too much time away from land; acute cabin fever.
I think all of us are simply sick of being on the boat. We were sick of talking to each other, sick of listening to each other, sick of looking at each other. The symptoms are starting to worsen. Even the smallest things my crew members do start to annoy me; the disgusting way Joe uses the same knife to spread butter and jam on his toast. The way Mary sits right in the middle of the loveseat to check her stupid e-mails on her stupid laptop with the stupid stickers on it. The way Eugene breathes…in and out, in and out, he just. keeps. DOING IT!!!
The only cure for this degree of cabin fever is a little time off the boat which thankfully is exactly what the captain has ordered. We all have the weekend off! Yay! In Florida! SUPER YAY! So I am taking this block of free time to visit my family and best friends in my hometown. It’s the final countdown to my Space Coast homecoming…So organize the parade and cue the marching band!
(doesn’t it look like the shuttle is blasting off when you scroll down? neato)
Cabin Fever aside, I actually love long crossings. I get to watch movies and tan and stay completely horizontal for the majority of my time.
Because the crew is on staggered watch schedule, the past few days have felt like we’ve floated off the face of the Earth into some kind of black hole void of real time. My watch is from 6-10 a.m. & p.m. with the Captain. Watch is simply staring ahead, watching the navigational instruments to make sure we stay on course and don’t hit any cargo ships or other various flotsam. For 4 hours, that’s it. The longest 4 hours of your life. The constantly watched clock ticks in slow motion. Minutes feel like hours and hours feel like an eternity.
Though the time passes slowly, daytime watches aren’t so bad. Sometimes we see flying fish skimming the surface of the water beside our boat, as if they are escorting us into the waters ahead. If we are really lucky, pods of hitch hiking dolphins appear out of nowhere to catch a free ride on the wake of our bow for a quick surf session. The first sighting of a fin and I am up and running to the front of the boat where you can get almost close enough to touch them. It is exhilirating to stand over the quick and graceful animals having a blast being propelled by our yacht’s momentum. The sonar they employ is unbelievable; it’s like they’re showing off for us, saying ‘hey humans! look what we can do!’, weaving under and around the bottom of our boat coming within an inch of each other and our hull, taking turns catching enough speed for an explosive leap out of the water. Every other second, you are a foot away from a smiling dolphin in mid air. The show of aquatic acrobatics usually lasts for about five magic minutes and then, as if wearing electric shock collars, the entire herd of synchronized swimmers vanishes as we continue on out of their range. Rare sightings of birds and other boats added smaller doses of excitement to the otherwise monotonous hours filled with meaningless conversation and eventual awkward silence. Every now and then the captain will adjust a dial slightly when the currents started to push us off course.
The two crew members on watch yesterday had an exciting moment during their shift. We were in the middle of the Mona passage between Puerto Rico and Domincan Republic when they saw a whale! Well actually, Andrew said it was just the tail as it went down ahead of them. He also said it was obvious that the whale was waving directly at him. Some people have all the luck.
Night watches are a little bit more difficult. The wheelhouse is kept pitch-black dark so that even the faintest of lights on the horizon will be visible. That combined with the rhythmic rocking of the seas makes staying awake quite painful. It feels like 4 lb weights are pulling your eyelids down. I’m not sure what exactly hell on earth is but I’m pretty sure I experienced it during last nights watch. It’s partially my own fault, I spent a little too much time tanning on the sun deck yesterday resulting in the most sunburned ass I have ever experienced.
The back of my legs and behind constantly feel like they are being slowly scratched off by a cat with sharpened molten claws. It’s not a great feeling and it makes sitting on a rocking boat for hours incredibly painful. Even the slightest movement sends electric ripples of stinging pain up and down the back of my body. To add insult to injury, the captain insisted on playing music that sounded like a mix of creed/nickleback and daughtry all rolled into one awful ear rape. 14,400 of the most miserable dragged out seconds (aka 4 hours) later I felt like a prisoner of war. Chinese water torture would have been a welcome alternative to what I had just endured.
Usually though, when I’m not sitting on 1st degree burned body parts and being forced to listen to blaring dork-rock, night watches can be quite beautiful really.
In the middle of the ocean, away from the light of land, the night sky is an unbelievable sparkling snow globe surrounding you in 360 degrees of stars. More stars than you could ever imagine, like you are floating right through the center of the Milky Way.
Only reflecting moonlight shines on the otherwise invisible water below, until you step outside into the fresh ocean air and look down on the wake of the bow. As the boat slices through a sea of darkness, tiny neon glowing flashes of bioluminescence dance and leap from the disrupted surface to a song of rhythmic splashes. Drifting deep into the darkness, surrounded by nothing but illuminated forces of nature I am sure this kind of beauty could have only been created by a heavenly God.
And so we have about 24 more hours at sea before we dock in West Palm Beach. The weather reports show a storm system moving across Florida and we are hoping to get into port just before it hits. I will not be tanning today as I have gotten more than enough sun for now and I have plenty of loose ends to tie up before my 3 day weekend at home. I AM SO EXCITED to see my family and friends. Maybe it;s because my middle name is Dorothy that I truly believe there is no place like home.